STAY THE FIGHT! STRENGTH, EFFORT, AND DISCIPLINE. THESE ARE THE WATCH WORDS OF A WARRIOR -- Kevin Michael Vance
Title - Kevin Michael Vance - writer/musician/purveyor of raw materials
STAY THE FIGHT! STRENGTH, EFFORT, AND DISCIPLINE. THESE ARE THE WATCH WORDS OF A WARRIOR -- Kevin Michael Vance
STAY THE FIGHT! STRENGTH, EFFORT, AND DISCIPLINE. THESE ARE THE WATCH WORDS OF A WARRIOR -- Kevin Michael Vance

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Kevin Michael Vance
Writer - Portland, Oregon


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Title: ARRIVAL
Director: Denis Villenueve
Year: 2016
Reviewed: February 21, 2017

Rating:   Birthday Cake-Second Highest Rating
[Rating Definitions]

  ARRIVAL

So I will readily admit to a modicum of confusion as to what the hell went on in the movie, "Arrival". If anyone reads this review and can then explain it to me, I welcome that. Honestly, however, I had some issues with the film from the "get go". I hated the depiction of the military, not that I care how the military is represented in film (I do not), but the writing could have been much, much better, as well as some simple character features... of any kind. Every military personnel depicted in the film was the same perfunctory by-the-books sort of character, which surprises me. Vellenuve's last film "Sicario", albeit dark and violent, had some legitimate funny moments and characters. People smiled in "Sicario"... darkly smiled, but a smile nonetheless. In the way that the scientists did not act like scientists in Scott's "Prometheus", the soldiers in "Arrival" don't act like soldiers, or even human beings. Even Whitaker's character, Colonel Weber, could have been given some sort of arc, some grounding in reality, some reason for his mistrust of the aliens, but all he was turned out to be a by-the-numbers Colonel who had no depth or humanity of any kind. There was no thinking "out of the box", and honestly, no real intelligence beyond what his superiors told him. Then we have the soldiers who try to blow up the ship. The only foreshadowing of this event was watching, yet another, stern soldier stare into a computer screen and watch what the Chinese were doing. Then, all of a sudden like, we're supposed to believe that he and 3 or 4 of his cohorts risk everything: their lives, their careers, their government and country in a wan attempt to destroy the creatures ship. They even engage in combat with soldiers of their own military. Why? We don't know why. The answer may as well be... because.

I don't know... the whole thing felt forced, and to be honest, poorly written.

Lastly we have the ending. And again, I'm being honest here... I don't get it. It felt like some pseudo religious mumbo jumbo involving time travel and time perspective. It left me feeling empty, confused, and unfulfilled. Similar to Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar", the ending felt convoluted and rushed.

Admittedly, I am no great fan of stories that mess with the convention of a linear plot. They are so often than not, jumbled, jarring, and truly hackneyed. The gimmick is so apparent it may as well be a lemon meringue pie in the face.

Villenueve is most definitely a director to watch. I like the way he holds shots. I like his sense of pacing and his dedication to cinematography. However, "Sicario" is the only movie I've seen by him that is not just good, but great.

"Arrival" left me wanting. It's pretty, claims to be profound and isn't, and has a weak ending. For these reasons I give it a BIRTHDAY CAKE review.

p.s. The soundtrack, however, is brilliant! Johann Johannsson is speedily becoming one of my favorite modern composers.

p.p.s. Oh yah! The fuckin' C.G. hair! Yes, I said it. C.G. hair!
   



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